« Buoniconti makes plea to Ireland; Fins, Canes, Heat; More reasons why UM is angry with NCAA | Main | D'Onofrio responds to critics, tries to fix defense; Fins, Heat, Marlins chatter »

LeBron injury update; Strong words from Bosh; Wade's new nickname?; the people who will decide UM's fate; Loria changes mind

We'll post the Sunday buzz later. A few things, in order: UM, Heat, Marlins ---

### So who will decide UM’s fate? At least five, and maybe more, of the 18 members of the infractions committee.

If you're wondering, that group includes these folks:

Former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, former Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins, Kansas City based attorney John Black, Washington D.C. based attorney Roscoe Howard, SEC associate commissioner Gregory Sankey, Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky (the chairperson)…

Notre Dame senior deputy A.D. Melissa Conboy, Oregon law professor James O’Fallon, Missouri law professor Rodney Uphoff….

Bowling Green A.D. Greg Christopher, Temple law professor Eleanor Myers, Tampa based attorney Christopher Griffin, Georgia president Michael Adams…

Former U.S. attorney Norman Bay, former Bowling Green president Carol Cartwright, Iowa State senior vice president Thomas Hill, former Minnesota A.D. Joe Maturi, and Princeton attorney Sankar Suryanarayan.

The NCAA case very likely be heard in mid-June after the infractions committee agreed to move up the enforcement staff's timetable. An official close with someone on Friday's conference call said nothing else was decided on the call. The NCAA said it would consider the motions by three former assistants to dismiss charges against them, but none know if they have a legitimate chance of success. At least one of the three has been considering a lawsuit.

HEAT

### LeBron James said after the morning shootaround in Philadelphia this morning that his quad/knee injury, sustained in a collision with Chicago's Nate Robinson on Thursday, is feeling better and he will play tonight. He cracked that it won't stop him from dunking if there are opportunities on alley-oops.

### Chris Bosh was asked by a New York reporter after practice whether he's amused or annoyed when opponents say they can beat the Heat in the playoffs. (The Knicks weren't mentioned, but coach Mike Woodson and Carmelo Anthony have both said that in recent days).

Responded Bosh: "People have been saying that for a while. It's only happened once. When it's go time, when it's time to put it all on the line, we feel we're the best team out there. During the season, late season, early playoffs, late playoffs, when we're playing our best, we're the best team in the league."

### The Heat plays the 76ers tonight, and aside from their three remaining meetings this season, there's no bigger Philadelphia fan, during the next two months, than the Heat. That's because the Heat will get Philadelphia's first-round pick only if the Sixers make the playoffs, and that's looking like something of a long shot.

The first-round pick is lottery protected for 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Heat's own first-round pick in 2013 belongs to Cleveland as a result of the LeBron James sign-and-trade.

Philadelphia is 3 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the eighth playoff spot and continues to be without center Andrew Bynum, who practiced Friday but is not close to returning, coach Doug Collins said.

If the Sixers surprisingly squeak in as the eighth seed, the pick the Heat would receive likely would be 15th or 16th overall. Otherwise, Miami will have to wait until a year the 76ers make the playoffs, or 2016 --- whichever comes first.

The Heat acquired the pick on a draft night trade last June; Miami selected former Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultree with the 27th pick and sent him to the 76ers for the 45th pick and a future first-rounder. The Heat used the 45th selection on LSU center Justin Hamilton, whose is playing overseas and will be invited to join the Heat's summer program beginning in July. Moultree has played in only 19 games for the 76ers, averaging 2.4 points and 2.4 rebounds.

### After practice Saturday, LeBron James told Wade to tell reporters his new nickname: "It's WOW! Way of Wade. I think it's corny." Wade cracked: "I'm taking it global."

LORIA TO SPEAK

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has refused to speak to the media since mid-November, when he was approached by writers in Chicago and said this when asked why the Marlins traded three of their four most expensive players to Toronto: “If you guys haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not going to figure it out for you!” Then, when asked if he would sell the team, he spewed: "More stupidity!"

But Loria will finally speak on Monday, and P.R. people believe the owner should.  

Cori Zywotow Rice, president of public relations firm Hill & Knowlton/SAMCOR said: “Generally, silence is not a good policy. We, in most circumstances,… recommend our clients to fill the vacuum with their point of view. When there’s an absence of facts, the vacuum often gets filled with speculation, which is not in the client’s best interests.”

In the Marlins’ defense, David Samson and Larry Beinfest have done the best they could to explain the Marlins’ predicament. They were forthright and candid during a Marlins’ media event two weeks ago.

But Loria needs to speak, too, after extracting more than $300 million in public money for a stadium based on the presumption the Marlins would have a competitive payroll.

So what should Loria say? Here’s what we would recommend:

REMEMBER: LORIA DID NOT SAY WHAT'S BELOW. IT"S MERELY WHAT I WOULD SAY IF I WERE HIM, WHAT THE FANS DESERVE TO BE TOLD.

“I want to apologize to our loyal fans for what has happened this offseason. I know it has been difficult for our fans, and I want to explain why we did what we did.

“Let me start by making ourselves accountable. We vastly overestimated the revenue the new stadium would generate. I expected we would draw 33,000 to 35,000 fans per game. In truth, only about 17,000 fans attended each game, on average. As a result, the money we got from tickets, concessions and merchandise was tens of millions of dollars less than we expected.

“I don’t want to leave the impression I’m blaming the fans. If we had put a better team on the field, perhaps more people would have come. But I am puzzled why we had only two sellouts, and why none of the games against the Red Sox sold out.

“At any rate, our revenues were $40 million less than we expected, and as a result, we suffered sizable losses. I am opening our financial books to the media so there aren’t any doubts about that.

“When my business people gave me the revenue projections for this season, I decided I could not stomach the type of financial losses we would incur if we kept the payroll anywhere near where it was last season. And I concluded that the team we had, even before the Hanley Ramirez trade, wasn’t playoff-caliber.

“So I made the difficult decision to trade many of our highest priced players. As much as I loved Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, I could not fathom paying Reyes $22 million each of the last four years of his seven-year contract, or Buehrle $18 million and $19 million in the last two years of his four year contract. I could not justify those payroll allocations knowing our revenue isn’t nearly as high as we expected.

“I understand that Jose and Mark were upset about being traded, and I understand their anger. I have decided that in some cases, we are going to re-think our policy about not giving no-trade clauses. I don’t want that to be an impediment to signing free agents if it’s the right player.

“What I’m encouraged about is we have replenished our farm system and added quality young players in Rob Brantley, Jacob Turner, Adeiny Hechavarria, and have several terrific prospects not far from the majors, such as Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich. MLB.com has six of our players ranked among the top 100 prospects.

“My hope is that our young nucleus of players will grow together this year and we can supplement this team with free agents in the future. My hope is that we can make smarter decisions about how we spend money, because our performance in that area --- mine especially - hasn’t been nearly good enough.

“We said when the new ballpark opened, we expected a payroll in the mid range of all teams, and I am sorry that will not be the case this season. Though our revenue will make that difficult to achieve every year, I understand I have an obligation to field a competitive team. I understand why people are angry about our payroll, but we will build it back up when we are further along in our rebuilding plan.

“And I will make an earnest attempt to do a longterm deal with Giancarlo Stanton long before he can become a free agent after the 2016 season.”

So that would be a start for Loria – making an earnest attempt to be straight with Marlins fans, how ever many are left. Anything less would be disappointing. 

Comments